An environmental group said Friday some of the containers that
will carry plutonium from Colorado to South Carolina are unsafe.
Citing federal documents it reviewed, Tri-Valley CARES Inc. of
Livermore, Calif., said some Department of Energy containers could
be crushed during a highway accident. Shipments to South Carolina
are expected in the next month.
DOE spokesman Joe Davis said all plutonium coming from Rocky
Flats, Colo., to the Savannah River Site will be safely packaged and
But Tri-Valley CARES director Marylia Kelley said DOE records
show one type of container is vulnerable in a car or train collision
with the DOE's plutonium trucks. The group says federal documents it
reviewed show that the containers cannot pass mandatory government
"That could disperse deadly plutonium particles across the
highway and into the atmosphere," Kelley said Friday afternoon.
Tri-Valley CARES is a watchdog group that follows the Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratories nuclear site in California. During
her review of the records, Kelley said she learned that suspect
containers were going not only to the Livermore site, but also to
the Savannah River Site.
She said at least 85 questionable containers would come to South
Carolina, based on her review of the federal records.
Davis said the DOE has "stringent" guidelines for material to be
shipped to SRS. The containers in dispute are commonly referred to
"We have multiple layers of protection with respect to these
shipments," Davis said. That includes safeguards on the inner
packaging and the trucks to be used, he said.
The Department of Energy intends to begin shipping plutonium from
Rocky Flats to SRS as early as May 15. Gov. Jim Hodges has fought to
block the shipments, saying the material could be left in South
Negotiations to resolve the federal-state dispute continued
Friday with no resolution. Davis said both sides had made
Plutonium is a potentially deadly toxin linked to lung cancer. It
is used to make nuclear weapons.
Hodges' spokeswoman Cortney Owings said the governor's office had
not heard about the container questions. Kevin Bishop, a spokesman
for U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the congressman is
comfortable that the shipments will be secure.
Like Hodges, Graham opposes shipping the material to South
Carolina without a firm agreement that it will be moved out at a
future date. But the shipments are not a worry, Bishop